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Democrats Press for Full Release       03/24 10:45

   Democrats are pressing for full disclosure of special counsel Robert 
Mueller's report on the Russia investigation and vowing to use subpoena powers 
and other legal means if necessary to get it.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats are pressing for full disclosure of special 
counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation and vowing to use 
subpoena powers and other legal means if necessary to get it.

   Attorney General William Barr was expected to release his first summary of 
Mueller's findings on Sunday, people familiar with the process said, on what 
lawmakers anticipated could be a day of reckoning in the two-year probe into 
President Donald Trump and Russian efforts to elect him. Since receiving the 
report Friday, Barr has been deciding how much of it Congress and the public 
will see.

   Democrats are on a hair trigger over the prospect that some information may 
be withheld.

   "I suspect that we'll find those words of transparency to prove hollow, that 
in fact they will fight to make sure that Congress doesn't get this underlying 
evidence," Rep. Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House intelligence 
committee, said on ABC's "This Week."

   His plan: Ask for information and if that's denied, "subpoena. If subpoenas 
are denied, we will haul people before the Congress.  And yes, we will 
prosecute in court as necessary to get this information."

   At his resort in Florida, Trump stirred from an unusual, nearly two-day 
silence on Twitter with the anodyne tweet Sunday morning: "Good Morning, Have a 
Great Day!" Then followed up: "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

   Mueller's investigation is known to have concluded without a recommendation 
for further indictments after having snared nearly three dozen people, senior 
Trump campaign operatives among them. It illuminated Russia's assault on the 
American political system, painted the Trump campaign as eager to exploit the 
release of hacked Democratic emails to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and 
exposed lies by Trump aides aimed at covering up their Russia-related contacts.

   Although the probe ended without any public charges of a criminal conspiracy 
by the president, it was not known whether Mueller concluded that the campaign 
colluded with the Kremlin to tip the election in Trump's favor.

   Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, 
said Democrats won't be willing to wait long for the Justice Department to hand 
over full information on the probe into whether Trump's 2016 campaign 
coordinated with Russia to sway the election and whether the president later 
sought to obstruct the investigation.

   "It won't be months," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

   Asked if he still believes Trump obstructed justice, he indicated there has 
been obstruction but "whether it's criminal is another question."

   Mueller submitted his report to Barr instead of directly to the public 
because, unlike independent counsels such as Ken Starr, his investigation 
operated under the close supervision of the Justice Department, which appointed 
him.

   Mueller was assigned to the job in May 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod 
Rosenstein, who oversaw much of his work, and the regulations governing his 
appointment require that he submit a confidential report to the Justice 
Department at the conclusion of his investigation. That's in direct contrast to 
Starr, who did not report to Justice Department leadership and was empowered to 
release on his own his exhaustive report detailing his investigation into the 
relationship between President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

   Barr and Rosenstein analyzed Mueller's report on Saturday, laboring to 
condense it into a summary letter of main conclusions.

   Barr has said he wants to release as much as he can under the law. That 
decision will require him to weigh the Justice Department's longstanding 
protocol of not releasing negative information about people who aren't indicted 
against the extraordinary public interest in a criminal investigation into the 
president and his campaign.

   Democrats are citing the department's recent precedent of norm-breaking 
disclosures, including during the Hillary Clinton email investigation, to argue 
that they're entitled to Mueller's entire report and the underlying evidence he 
collected.

   Even with the details still under wraps, Friday's end to the 22-month probe 
without additional indictments by Mueller was welcome news to some in Trump's 
orbit who had feared a final round of charges could target more Trump 
associates or members of the president's family.

   The White House sought to keep its distance, saying Sunday it had not been 
briefed on the report. Trump, who has relentlessly criticized Mueller's 
investigation as a "witch hunt," went golfing Saturday and was 
uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter. Not so one of his guests, musician Kid 
Rock, who posted a picture with the president and the tweet, "Another great day 
on the links!" He added: "What a great man, so down to earth and so fun to be 
with!!"

   The conclusion of Mueller's investigation does not remove legal peril for 
the president.

   He faces a separate Justice Department investigation in New York into hush 
money payments during the campaign to two women who say they had sex with him 
years before the election. He's also been implicated in a potential campaign 
finance violation by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who says Trump asked him 
to arrange the transactions. Federal prosecutors, also in New York, have been 
investigating foreign contributions made to the president's inaugural committee.

   In a letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the congressional 
judiciary committees, Barr noted on Friday that the department had not denied 
any request from Mueller, something Barr would have been required to disclose 
to ensure there was no political interference. Trump was never interviewed in 
person by Mueller's team, but submitted answers to questions in writing.

   In a conference call Saturday about next steps, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a 
member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a warning for his fellow 
Democrats, some of whom have pinned high political hopes on Mueller's findings: 
"Once we get the principal conclusions of the report, I think it's entirely 
possible that that will be a good day for the president and his core 
supporters."

   A number of Trump associates and family members have been dogged by 
speculation of possible wrongdoing. Among them are Donald Trump Jr., who helped 
arrange a Trump Tower meeting at the height of the 2016 campaign with a 
Kremlin-linked lawyer, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was 
interviewed at least twice by Mueller's prosecutors.

   All told, Mueller charged 34 people, including the president's former 
campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his first national security adviser, Michael 
Flynn, and three Russian companies. Twenty-five Russians were indicted on 
charges related to election interference, accused either of hacking Democratic 
email accounts during the campaign or of orchestrating a social media campaign 
that spread disinformation on the internet.

   Five Trump aides pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller and a 
sixth, longtime confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges that he 
lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.

   Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel, said Saturday that the case 
of former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates will be handed off to the U.S. 
attorney for the District of Columbia. Gates was a key cooperator in Mueller's 
probe and court papers show he continues to help with several other federal 
investigations.

   Justice Department legal opinions have held that sitting presidents may not 
be indicted. But many Democrats say Trump should not be immune from a public 
accounting of his behavior. Though the department typically does not disclose 
negative information about people who are not indicted, officials have at times 
broken from that protocol.

   Former FBI Director James Comey famously held a July 2016 news conference in 
which he criticized Clinton as "extremely careless" in her use of a private 
email server but said the FBI would not recommend charges. The Justice 
Department also took the extraordinary step of making available to lawmakers 
the details of a secret surveillance warrant obtained on a Trump campaign aide 
in the early days of the Russia probe.


(KA)

 
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